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Chapter 13

Psychology 2075 Chapter 13: Chapter 13 Gender and Sexuality

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Western University
Psychology 2075
William Fisher

Chapter 13 Gender and Sexuality GENDER ROLES AND STEREOTYPES • A gender role is a set of norms, or culturally prescribed expectations, that define how people of one gender ought to behave • A stereotype is a rigid set of beliefs about a group of people that distinguishes those people from others and is applied to all members of that group • Belief that men differ psychologically from women and the stereotypes have not changed much since 1972 • Children as young as 6 are aware of these stereotypes • More than 85% of 8-year-olds identified the woman in the picture as appreciative, gentle, weak, soft- hearted, sentimental, emotional, excitable, and meek and mild o They identified the man in the picture as aggressive, strong, course, cruel, loud, and ambitious • The feminine woman is expected to be sexually attractive to men and in turn to be attracted to them o Women who violate this are viewed as violators of gender roles and are considered masculine o Heterosexuality is equally important in the male role Gender Schema Theory • A cognitive approach to understanding gender stereotypes • A gender schema is a set of ideas about behaviors, personality, appearance, etc., that we associate with males and females • Our schemas influence how we process information o Causes us to tend to distort or fail to remember information that is stereotype inconsistent o Thus making it difficult to change people’s stereotyped notions • Both our own gender roles and the situation we are in affect how likely we process information in terms of gender schema o Traditionally masculine men who were exposed to a nonviolent erotic film treated the female confederate in a more sexist way than did non-traditional men o Erotic film activated a traditional gender scheme The Traditional Sexual Script • Scripts are cognitive frameworks for how people are expected to behave in social situations • The sexual script that is the most pervasive in North America is a heterosexual script = the traditional sexual script (TSS) • specifies how men and women are expected to behave, saying: o Men are oversexed and women are undersexed § Men are seen as having strong sexual needs and being highly motivated to engage in sexual activity at any opportunity § Women are depicted as being sexually reluctant, slow to arouse, and interest in sex only in the context of love and commitment o High sexual experience enhances men’s but decreases women’s perceived status § Sex is seen to highlight positive characteristics in males like masculinity § But highlights undesirable characteristics in females like lack of values o Men are expected to be sexperts and to take responsibility for their own and their female partner’s sexual pleasure and orgasm § Women are expected to be sexually naïve o Men, because of their greater sexual interest, are supposed to be initiators in sexual situations o To avoid being judged negatively by being too sexually available, women are expected to be sexual gatekeepers and place limits on sexual activity • Results of a study indicated that o Men initiate sex more often in both mixed-sex dating and long-term relationships § However, men are not always the initiators – women initiating on average more than once a week o Men and women are equally likely to accept or refuse an initiation o Men and women use the same strategies to change their partner’s minds when they are not in the mood • These results indicate that some aspects of the TSS continue to characterize the heterosexual relationship Socialization • Socialization refers to the ways in which society conveys to the individual its norms or expectations for his or her behavior • Occurs especially in childhood • Children can engage in self-socialization o The more children come to identify with a particular gender, the more they are motivated to incorporate attributes associated with that gender into their self-concept o Conversely, seeing themselves as matching the stereotypes for their own gender strengthens children’s gender identity • Gender socialization comes from parents, peers and the media • Research indicates that parents treat girls and boys similarly in many ways, with the expectation that parents strongly encourage gender-typed activities • In the media, it was found that the voice of authority (the voice over) in advertisements was male in 71% of ads • In a study, children in grades 1 and 2 were exposed to television commercials in which all boys were playing with a gender neutral toy (traditional condition), all girls were playing with it (non-traditional), or the commercials were not about toys (control) o After, children were asked to sort six toys into those that were both boys and girls o Among the six toys was the toys they saw in the commercial o Children in the traditional condition were more likely to say that the toy was for boys o Children in non-traditional condition were more likely to say that it was for both boys & girls • Video games still show pattern of extreme gender stereotyping Gender Role and Ethnicity • Ethnicity refers to a sizeable group of people who share a common and distinct racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or heritage • People of British and French backgrounds make up the largest ethnic groups in Canada o But only 12% of Canadians report only British or French origins • More than 1 in 5 Canadians were not born in Canada o Two-thirds of these people live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver • Intersectionality is an approach that simultaneously considers the meaning and consequences of multiple categories of identity, difference, and disadvantage o Thus, we should consider the effects of gender, race, social class, and sexual orientation simultaneously • Gender roles are influenced by the majority Canadian culture through the process of acculturation o The process of incorporating the beliefs and customs of a new culture • The study Ethnocultural Communities Facing AIDS examined sexuality within six Canadian ethnocultural communities o Groups chosen based on ethnicity, NOT race o Found a number of cross-cultural similarities in gender roles o Men and women in these communities are seen as having distinct roles in that men are expected to be the head of the family, and women to be the caregivers o Double standard with respect to sexual behavior – dating and premarital sex are accepted and often encouraged in men but not in women The South Asian Communities • Second-largest visible minority group in Canada • Religion is a major focus of community life • Hard work, education, and achievement are important values • Respect for traditional values is also highly important • Women are submissive to men The Chinese Community • The largest visible minority in Canada • Emphasizes responsibility to the family and the community over self-fulfillment and individualism as in the majority Canadian culture • Marriage is highly valued, so people are reluctant to divorce • In most families, the man is considered the head of the household • Not acceptable for women to participate in premarital or extramarital sex • Premarital sex also discouraged for males, but not extramarital sex • People are now moving away from traditional roles English-speaking Caribbean Communities • Eg. Jamaican • Strong sense of family and community • Traditionally, the man is expected to be the provider • Now there are a lot of single family households, usually headed by women • More restrictions are placed on girls as an attempt to prevent adolescent pregnancy • Women’s focus is on developing relationships and they may engage in serial monogamy • Both having a male partner and having a child are considered important aspects of the female role and are indicators of success Aboriginal Communities • Before contact with the Europeans, at least some of the Aboriginal peoples had relatively egalitarian gender roles • Two-thirds of the Aboriginal languages contain a word that has a third or fourth gender on top of male and female • Additional category = berdache o Rejected by many Aboriginal people who prefer the term two-spirit • There was also the role of a “many hearted woman”, a role that a woman who was exceptionally independent and aggressive could take on GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONING • Males are more aggressive than females; found cross-culturally • This is true for virtually all indicators of aggression – physical, fantasy, verbal • It is also true at all ages • As soon as children are old enough to perform aggressive behaviors, boys are more aggressive and men dominate the statistics on violent crimes • Within dating relationships, women tend to self-disclose more than men do about both sexual and non-sexual issues • Girls’ online self-disclosure increased greatly between ages 10 and 13 o Boys displayed a similar increase • Norms about self-disclosure are changing though o Traditional gender roles favoured emotional repressiveness/avoidance of selfdisclosure for men o Note, there is a contemporary ethic of good communication and openness that demands equal disclosure from males and females • There are gender differences in the ability to understand the non-verbal behaviors of others o = decoding non-verbal cues o = the ability to read others’ body language correctly o Can be measured by being able to determines one’s mood from facial expressions GENDER DIFFERENCES IN SEXUALITY Masturbation • One of the largest gender differences is the incidence of masturbation • 92% vs 58% of women in Kinsey’s study masturbated to orgasm • Virtually all men have masturbated by the time they are 20 • Many women report their first time being 25, 30, or 35 Attitudes About Casual Sex • Men are considerably more approving of this interaction • Women tend to be disapproving • Many women feel sexual intercourse is ethical or acceptable only in the context of an emotionally committed relationship • One study had female and male research assistants, who were confederates, approach people of the other gender and invite them to engage in casual sex o No women agreed o 70% of men agreed • Evolutionary theorists see these results as evidence of men’s selection to have sex with many partners and women’s selection to be choosy • Through socialization though, girls are taught to perceive risk in the environment and to be sensitive to the possibility of sexual assault o Boys are encouraged to ignore risk • More boys than girls approve having sex before marriage with someone you like • When asked what people’s main motives were for having sex o Out of the 200, twenty of the top twenty-five reasons were the same for males and females o Men were more likely to do it due to physical desirability of their partner, opportunity, physical pleasure, and insecurity o Women were not more likely than men to endorse emotional and commitment motives for having sex § Though women were more likely to express their love for their partner Use of Pornography • Men were considerably more likely to report using porn than women • Men are more likely to go online to view porn • Also more likely to go online to engage in sexual activity Arousal from Erotica • Lab research shows that men are more aroused by erotic materials, but the gender difference is not large • Study be Heiman had sexually experienced participants and studied their responses as they listened to tape recordings of erotic stories o Got objective measures of their physiological levels of arousal as well as participants’ self- ratings of their arousal o Use a penile stain gauge and a vaginal photoplethysmograph to get their levels of physiological arousal o Listened to four kinds of tapes to test the stereotype that women are more turned on by romance and men are more turned on by raw sex o Erotic, romantic, erotic-romantic, and control tapes o Three results: 1. Explicit heterosexual sex was most arousing for both males and females § Both responded most strongly to the erotic-romantic tapes § Women rated erotic tapes more arousing than men § Neither men nor women responded to the romantic or control tapes 2. Both men and women fond the female-initiated, female-centred tape to be most arousing 3. Women are sometimes not aware of their own physiological arousal § There was a high correlation with self-rating of arousal and objective physiological measure of arousal for men § When men were physically aroused, they never made an error in reporting this in their self-ratings § But when women were, about half of them did not report this o Heisman’s study i
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